Recall Alert: 138,736 Nissan Sedans Have a Potentially Dangerous Steering Problem

When surveying a random group of car owners regarding the things they hate most about car ownership, more than likely, recalls will be at the top of the list. There’s the inconvenience of taking the car to get it fixed, the dealership upselling them when they come in for the fix, and the hit to the resale value the car takes when the recall order goes out. And at any given time, there’s so much recall information floating around that you may not know whether your model is affected. But if you have a 2020 or 2021 Nissan Sentra, here’s what you need to know. 

The Nissan Sentra steering problem

Close up of chrome Nissan Logo on an orange car.
Nissan logo | Getty Images

According to Consumer Reports, Nissan’s most recent recall affects Nissan Sentra sedans manufactured between November 25, 2019, and March 24, 2021. The manufacturer believes that tie rods were improperly installed in up to 140,000 Sentras, potentially affecting drivers’ control over their vehicles. The tie rods connect a car’s wheels to its steering wheel. Symptoms of bent tie rods include vibrations and an off-center steering wheel. The pressure exerted on the bend over time can cause the tie rod to break and the driver to lose vehicle control.

Nissan has not reported any accidents to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) due to this defect. This Sentra earned a five-star rating from the NHTSA and “Good” crash-test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, these evaluations occurred before the recall.

Nissan plans to start notifying owners of the affected models to take their cars back to dealerships for inspections. If the inspection yields a bent tire rod, the dealership will replace it under warranty. Nissan has also provided owners with additional information on their recall site. Sentra owners can also call 1-800-867-7669. If you’re unsure whether your car is subject to this recall, you can type your VIN into the NHTSA website. You should see a recall notice if applicable.

Overall, is a 2020 or 2021 Nissan Sentra a good option?

The 2021 Nissan Sentra is a fairly decent pick for daily commuting. It looks sharp, and its 2.0-liter I-4 produces 149 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy is solid, with 29 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway for the base model S and SV trim and 28/37 mpg for the top-level SR trim. The handling is also pretty solid for a sedan in this class.

The S trim tech is a bit underwhelming with a 7-inch touchscreen, a four-speaker sound system, and a single USB port. But higher-level trims like the SV and SR add an inch to the touchscreen as well as a 7.0-inch cluster display, an additional USB and one USB-C port, and a six-speaker audio system. You’ll also get Nissan’s Safety Shield 360, with a suite of advanced safety features that come standard across trims. 

Unfortunately, the Nissan Sentra is notorious for its poor resale value. Because the Sentra is a popular vehicle, there are a ton of them on the market. A recall affecting those models could further push down resale prices in the short term. After all, if you’re going to buy a used Sentra, why not buy a 2019 version rather than one subject to recall?

The 2021 model is a refresh that significantly upgrades the car. The 2019 and 2020 versions of the vehicle have some serious flaws that may make you think twice. 

What to know if you’re considering a 2019 Sentra

Upon its release, the 2019 model Nissan Sentra was sharply criticized for its underpowered engine: a 1.8-liter I-4 producing just 124 hp and 125 lb-ft of torque. Another, more expensive engine option is a 1.6-liter turbo-four generating 188 hp and 177 lb-ft.  Its handling didn’t get much higher remarks, although its fuel economy was solid at 27/33 mpg.

The 2019 model’s trunk was fairly impressive at 15.1 cubic feet. The 2019 model’s tech options are also solid but not mind-blowing for this segment. The advanced safety features that come with the Nissan Safety Shield aren’t available on the base model S. In fact, most advanced safety measures are only available on the Sentra’s SR and top-level SL trim.

You may be able to avoid the recall hit to its resale value, but the 2019 Nissan Sentra is worse in a few significant ways than the 2020 and 2021 versions. If you must have a Sentra, your best bet is buying one of these models and having it checked for bent tie rods before it leaves the lot.

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